Years ago I knew someone who was intensely focussed on the goal of paying off his mortgage very early. This is an admirable goal, but he was so intense about it, his kids were doing without and the family didn’t have any fun.
Goals need to stay in balance. Sure, make advance principal payment on a debt, but also go to the discount movies once in a while.
If you hyper-focus on building up a savings account, there’s a risk you might spend more on the credit cards. If you have to put a bit less in savings to avoid accumulating consumer debt, so be it. Keep the balance.
In a perfect world, Henry, age forty, might have his house paid off and ten thousand dollars in the bank in case he loses his job. Should these be Henry’s goals?
I think not, because unless he earns twenty bazillion dollars a year, they aren’t attainable in a realistic time frame. If Henry set these as goals, he would soon become discouraged. It’s fine to hold these as ideals, but goals should be attainable.
His short-term goals might be to reduce his expenses enough to make periodic principal pre-payments on his mortgage. To have a little money automatically transferred to his savings account from every paycheck. You have to start at the beginning.
Because people are only human, we need goals we can realistically meet, and meet them soon enough to feel successful.